Stop Puppy Biting Through Consistency and Leadership
How do I stop puppy biting? I get asked this question on nearly a daily basis. Puppy biting is something all puppies do. It is how they communicate with us at such a young age. So how do you teach a puppy to keep their sharp little needle teeth off you? I wish there was a single quick tip to stop puppy biting, but it is more complicated than that.
Puppy biting can be gentle mouthing or gnawing, but can also be painful and even break skin. Either way it is a conversation you want to have with your puppy so that it doesn’t continue. It starts with their littermates. Puppies do not just play with their siblings, but are developing pack structure and individual personalities at the same time. When they come into our world we tend to drop to the floor and roll around with them just like a sibling would. In order to stop puppy biting the key is to play more of a “mother dog” role in their lives. Being a good leader for your dog does not mean being a bully. It also does not mean bribing your puppy for good behavior either.
So to stop puppy biting, be fair and consistent. Do not tell them “yes” and “no” at the same time. This is when you are telling your puppy verbally “no”, but continue to pet them and are telling them “yes” with your affection. Most puppies bite when they are engaged in play with you. I don’t want them to see me as a chew toy so I will use a toy, bone or ball for play and give affection when they are relaxed. In order to have a dog that is not excited by touch you want to give calming massage when they are relaxed. If you use your hands to play with them in an excited manner you are more likely to have a dog that associates touch with excitement.
When raising a puppy keep in mind the adult dog you want. If you do not want an adult dog that chews on your hands, then you should not let them do it as a puppy. This is where consistency is important. Always interrupt the behavior, remove affection and redirect your puppy to an appropriate chew toy. Remember your puppy is growing and learning every day so never chalk it up to “oh, he’s just a puppy, he’ll grow out of it and eventually stop puppy biting.” Your puppy needs your leadership and needs you to show him what is and isn’t acceptable behavior.